A mus­cled up Mod­er­na fi­nal­ly joins the CO­V­AX crew, pledg­ing 500M dos­es for low-in­come coun­tries

Days af­ter tur­bocharg­ing its Covid-19 vac­cine man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­i­ty to the tune of 3 bil­lion dos­es per year, Mod­er­na an­nounced Mon­day it has struck a deal with Gavi, the vac­cine al­liance, to sup­ply up to 500 mil­lion dos­es of its shot to the low­est in­come coun­tries by the end of next year.

The dis­cus­sions date back at least to last Oc­to­ber, when Mod­er­na told in­vestors about on­go­ing dis­cus­sions with CO­V­AX “on a tiered pric­ing pro­pos­al for pur­chas­ing mR­NA-1273.”

All dos­es will be sold at the “low­est tiered price,” ac­cord­ing to the Cam­bridge, MA-based biotech, and be dis­trib­uted among 92 coun­tries.

Un­der the fi­nal agree­ment, Mod­er­na will be­gin de­liv­ery of 34 mil­lion dos­es in Q4 of 2021, while the CO­V­AX fa­cil­i­ty — spear­head­ed by Gavi, WHO and CEPI — has an op­tion to pro­cure the re­main­ing 466 mil­lion dos­es fol­low­ing those ini­tial ship­ments.

CEPI, the Nor­way-based group ded­i­cat­ed to fund­ing epi­dem­ic pre­pared­ness, had giv­en Mod­er­na a $900,000 grant back in Jan­u­ary 2020. The WHO, mean­while, had just added mR­NA-1273 — which was shown to be about 95% ef­fec­tive in Phase III tri­als and con­tin­ues to of­fer de­cent pro­tec­tion against vari­ants in re­al world set­tings — to the list of vac­cines it rec­om­mends for emer­gency use against Covid-19.

With shots from Pfiz­er, As­traZeneca and the Serum In­sti­tute of In­dia in its port­fo­lio, CO­V­AX has so far shipped over 49 mil­lion Covid-19 vac­cines. The largest donor, though, is No­vavax, which has agreed to sup­ply 1.1 bil­lion dos­es of its yet-to-be-ap­proved pro­tein-based jab.

“Ex­pand­ing and hav­ing a di­verse port­fo­lio has al­ways been a core goal for CO­V­AX, and to re­main adapt­able in the face of this con­tin­u­al­ly evolv­ing pan­dem­ic – in­clud­ing the ris­ing threat posed by new vari­ants,” Gavi chief Seth Berkley said in a state­ment.

In a re­cent in­ter­view with End­points News, Mod­er­na CEO Stéphane Ban­cel de­scribed their ex­pand­ed pro­duc­tion com­mit­ment as a “mas­sive in­vest­ment” aimed at vac­ci­nat­ing and boost­ing pop­u­la­tions around the world.

“We said look, we have a cer­tain re­spon­si­bil­i­ty as a com­pa­ny and we will in­vest ag­gres­sive­ly … so that next year we can have a big im­pact,” Ban­cel said. “If you think about it, look at the pop­u­la­tion of the plan­et, you see that 70% of peo­ple want the vac­cine, which is what we’re see­ing in polls across the world, and if we can make 3 bil­lion vac­cines, that will be, for a com­pa­ny that just launched its first prod­uct a few months ago, ex­tra­or­di­nary.”

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Atomwise CEO and co-founder Abraham Heifets (left) and co-founder Izhar Wallach

A cou­ple bil­lion for Ex­sci­en­tia was on­ly part of Sanofi's AI am­bi­tions, as the Big Phar­ma adds Atom­wise to the ta­ble

Sanofi made clear its AI ambitions were real at the beginning of this year when the Big Pharma took its drug discovery collaboration with Exscientia to the next level, inking a pact that could birth 15 drugs and deliver $5.3 billion to the UK partner.

Seven months later, the AI blueprint is far from over at the French Big Pharma, as another of the much-hyped drug discovery startups is coming to the table in a five-drug deal. Sanofi will pay Atomwise $20 million to kick off the hunt for up to five targets, which are aimed at leading to the creation of new small molecules. Another $1 billion is on the line — as are royalties — and the companies kept mum on the specific diseases or broader therapeutic areas of interest.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Marisol Peron, Genmab SVP of communications and corporate affairs

Gen­mab launch­es cor­po­rate cam­paign am­pli­fy­ing its ‘knock your socks off’ an­ti­bod­ies

Genmab often talks about its “knock-your-socks-off” antibodies — and now the term is getting its own logo and corporate campaign.

The teal and purple logo for the acronym KYSO — Genmab pronounces it “ky-so” — debuts on Wednesday and comes on the heels of Genmab’s newly announced 2030 vision. That aspiration aims to expand Genmab’s drug development beyond oncology to include other serious diseases, while also doubling down on its own drug development.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Bosch Health Campus)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs since 2020.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.